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Sponsored Results: Hebrew Words

Jewish Word Spelling Guide

abbr.= abbreviated esp.= especially Heb.= Hebrew
lit.= literally n= noun pl.= plural
pron.= pronounced usu.= usually v= verb
Yid.= Yiddish Common Hebrew Phrases

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

M

A mezuzah (Hebrew: מזוזה) (plural: mezuzot (מזוזות)) is a piece of parchment (usually contained in a decorative case) inscribed with specified Hebrew verses from the Torah. A mezuza is affixed to the doorpost of Jewish homes. Many families place a mezuzah only on the front door, but observant Jews hang one on every doorway in the home apart from bathrooms, walk-in closets, pantries, or other spaces not used for residential purposes.

The inscribed verses are from the Shema prayer, which begins with the words "Hear, O Israel." The text appears in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. The parchment is prepared by a qualified scribe (a "sofer stam") who has undergone many years of meticulous training. The verses are written in indelible black ink with a special quill pen. The Hebrew word "Shaddai" is inscribed on the back of the parchment, which is then rolled up and placed inside the mezuzah case. Many mezuzah cases are marked with the Hebrew letter "Shin," which stands for "Shaddai."
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Affixing the mezuzah

According to halacha, the mezuzah should be placed on the right side of the door (from the point of view of the person entering the room), on the lower part of the upper third of the doorpost (i.e., approximately shoulder height, within approximately 3 inches of the doorway opening. A minority opinion is that the mezuzah should be affixed on the side opposite the hinge. In either case, halacha requires that mezuzot be affixed within 30 days of moving into a rented house or apartment. This applies to Jews living in the Diaspora (i.e. outside Israel). For a purchased home or apartment in the Diaspora, or a residence in Israel (owned or rented), the mezuzah is affixed immediately upon moving in. The case can be affixed to the doorpost with nails, screws, glue, or double-sided tape. Wrapping the scroll in plastic wrap before placing it in the case will protect it from the elements. Care should be taken not tear or damage the parchment or the wording on it, as this will invalidate the mezuzah .

Where the doorway is wide enough, Ashkenazi Jews and Spanish and Portuguese Jews tilt the case so that the top slants toward the room into which the door opens. This is done to accommodate the variant opinions of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam as to whether it should be placed horizontally or vertically and also to imply that God and the Torah (which the mezuzah is a symbol for) are coming into the room. Ottoman Sephardim and some other non-Ashkenazi Jewish groups have traditionally affixed the case vertically.

The procedure is to hold the mezuzah against the spot upon which it will be affixed, then recite a blessing:

.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשַׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לִקְבּוֹעַ מְזוּזָה
Barukh atta Adonai eloheinu melekh ha‘olam, asher qiddeshanu bemiṣvotav veṣivvanu liqboa‘ mezuza.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His mitzvot, and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.

Any Jew can recite the blessing provided he or she is old enough to understand the significance of the mitzvah. After the blessing, the mezuzah is attached.

When affixing several mezuzot, it is sufficient to recite the blessing once, before affixing the first one.